Life science companies doing business during a pandemic may believe that patients, judges and juries will look kindly on products that don’t perform as promised, but that may be an empty wish. Angela Seaton, an attorney with the D.C. office of Shook, Hardy & Bacon LLP, advised that companies that want to break into new markets because of pandemic-specific demand should do their homework, including a review of U.S. FDA warning letters.
The FDA’s 15-day deadline for responses to warning letters has long been a sore spot for device makers, who might argue that some of the more complex regulatory findings require more than 15 days to analyze and address. That same timeline was found in both the draft and final versions of the non-binding feedback guidance for device inspections despite industry’s pleas that such a tight deadline leads to rushed judgment and potentially inadequate responses by managers at the manufacturing site.
The FDA’s device center has resumed a more normal pace of warning letter issuance in recent months, and the latest batch posted to the warning letter website features warning letters to one device maker in Europe and three firms in Asia. One U.S. firm, Steiner Biotechnology LLC, of Henderson, Nev., also received a warning, however, which is the second the company has received since June 2017.
In the words of former FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb, the five-week government shutdown that ended Jan. 25 was "the most difficult operational challenge we have faced in modern times." While the full impact of that challenge could ripple through the FDA for a while, it made little difference in the number of warning letters the agency sent out between Dec. 23 and Jan. 25.